Inclined Plane of the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company

The Inclined Plane played a pivotal role in the development of the first railroad in the South, known as the Charleston-to-Hamburg Line, constructed between 1830 and 1833. It featured two parallel, sloped tracks connected through an Engine House, where a ½-mile rope cable wound around a large wheel powered by a stationary engine. This mechanism allowed cars to be hoisted up one track while descending on the other.

The Inclined Plane quickly became a focal point, leading to the establishment of Aiken, named in honor of William Aiken, the company’s first President. Aiken was officially chartered as a city in 1835.

Despite its significance, the Inclined Plane slowed the railroad’s operations. In response, a new route, the Aiken Cut, was completed in 1852, enhancing efficiency. In 2016, remnants of the Inclined Plane tracks were rediscovered in Hitchcock Woods, marking a significant archaeological find.

Today, a replica of the Inclined Plane stands in Aiken. This representation includes recreated tracks, a patio, and a wooden frame representing the Engine House. Informational kiosks on the patio provide insights into the Inclined Plane’s history and operation. Nearby, a historical marker commemorates the location of the original Engine House, underscoring its historical importance to the area. 

Rendering of the original inclined plane.